Fall Colors Bike Ride to Cripple Creek

September 28th, 2010

Fall Aspen Near Cripple Creek, CO

I’ve ridden to Cripple Creek on Gold Camp Road several times in the fall when the aspen have been turned but it’s been awhile since I last did it. A few weeks ago, I was hanging out at Kinfolks after hiking the Manitou Incline and one of my friends told me a group was going to ride their mountain bikes to Cripple Creek. The date was this past Saturday.

I was busy so I never tracked down the details on the ride. They were also spending the night and riding back on Sunday. It did get me thinking though that it was time to do that ride again.

We celebrated my daughter’s 6th birthday Friday evening so I didn’t get my bike and gear ready the night before. It was nearly 10 before I got started which was later than I had wanted to. It was already very warm when I rolled out from my house. It was looking to be a beautiful day with deep, blue sky and no clouds to be seen. I still took a vest and arm and knee warmers because it doesn’t take much to get cold at 10,000 feet this time of year.

Since Gold Camp Road is an old railroad grade, it climbs gradually and starting from my house I get about 20 miles of climbing before it tops out near Rosemont Reservoir. Once I passed closed tunnel #3, I found they had graded the closed section of road the more than I’ve seen in years. I know they want to keep it usable in case of a forest fire but not sure why they did so much grading. In places it made it tough to find a rideable line through the loose, deep gravel.

On the lower part, the aspen were barely changing color but once I got up higher they were beautiful yellow with just a little orange and red mixed in. The bright sunlight and cloudless sky made them even prettier.

About 10 miles before Cripple Creek, I caught up with the group that was riding. Many of them are hashers so it was no surprise that they had their SAG vehicle well stocked with beer. They offered me some but I was 40 miles into my ride and feeling a little dehydrated so I stuck to some fresh water.

I met my wife and kids in Cripple Creek and hung out with them for a few minutes before heading home on the highway. I knew I had to keep moving because I didn’t have a lot of daylight left. As it was, I ended up running out of daylight a little ways before getting home and I didn’t have lights.

After I called my wife to come get me, I kept riding but ended up getting a big nail in my tire. My CO2 adapter seemed to clog with ice but when I tried a 2nd cartridge I still couldn’t get air into the tire. I still got in 90 miles of great riding with about half of it dirt and half pavement.

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Jones Park Downhill Loop

July 29th, 2010

Tunnel on Closed Section of Gold Camp Road

One of the great mountain bike rides in the Colorado Springs area is the Jones Park Downhill. I used to ride it a couple times a year. I haven’t done it in the last few years but I rode it a week and a half ago.

Jon Severson from Front Range Cyclist on Gold Camp RoadLots of mountain bikers get someone to shuttle them since the short version starting from the dirt parking lot at the top of Cheyenne Cañon is about 22 miles. Since I don’t like driving to ride and wanted a long ride, I rode from my house. That got me 47 miles. I’m guessing about 4900 vertical but not sure since my Garmin Edge 705 wasn’t even close. At the high point, it said I’d climbed a few hundred feet less than I was higher than my house.

Jon Severson from Front Range Cyclist met me at the bottom of the Broadmoor Chutes which is one of the common places people start from. I think from there it’s a little over 30 miles round trip. We climbed up the Chutes to Gold Camp Road.

Colorado Springs from Gold Camp RoadGold Camp Road is an old railroad grade and climbs at a few percent grade mile after mile. In fact I think including the Chutes, it’s nearly 20 miles of climbing. Jon turned down Old Stage Road when we got there and I continued on Gold Camp.

Finally where the trailhead is for Rosemont Reservoir, Gold Camp Road tops out and starts slightly downhill. About a mile later, Forest Service Road 379 is on the right. This is the road to get to the Forester Trail (Trail 701) that goes to Jones Park. FSR 379 starts out fairly steep and rocky but soon becomes less steep as it goes along a big meadow area.

Forester Trail to Jones ParkSoon after the road curves left and leaves the meadow, the Forester Trailhead is on the right. There’s a sign here that used to have a map on it but has been destroyed by people shooting at it. Soon after the start of the Forester Trail, the Pipeline Trail intersects on the right. It doesn’t have the ups and downs that the first few miles of the Forester Trail and joins to Captain Jacks below Jones Park.

Staying on the Forester Trail does mean some as it goes up and down a bit through a couple drainages. It also has a few technical rocky sections. It also has some whoop de doos since dirt bikes use the trail. I prefer it as I like going through Jones Park.

Jones ParkAt Jones Park, the Forester Trail intersects with Captain Jacks (667 FS Trail) and descending begins in earnest. It’s nearly a 4,000 foot drop in under 10 miles if you take the FS 666 Trail down Bear Creek to High Drive.

On Captain Jacks, there are some fun banked flowing sections along with some rocky, technical sections. Some sections are pretty torn up from the dirt bikes. Part way down Captain Jacks crosses the creek and climbs a little up to the ridge. That is the way back to the parking lot at the top of Cheyenne Cañon and shortest way back to the Chutes. At that point FS 666 goes straight and is closed to dirt bikes.

The 666 trail is much narrower than Captain Jacks. It’s also not nearly as worn as Captain Jacks and has a few section of deep gravel. Josephine Falls is along the 666 trail. It’s easy to miss but it’s right were the trail comes out right to the edge of some cliffs and turns right.

The 666 trail comes out at High Drive. If you rode from town or parked at Section 16, you can just head on down. If you’ve parked in the Cheyenne Cañon area, you can climb back up it against the one way traffic. For the Chutes you can either climb up or go down to Gold Camp Road and ride up the pavement.

Here is a Google Map of the Jones Park Loop and the elevation profile the way I rode it.

- UltraRob

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Fire in Gold Camp Tunnel #3

February 17th, 2006

Monday there was a fire in tunnel #3 on Gold Camp Road. The access to the trails past it were closed for a few days although now they saying access is just restricted. There was an article in the Gazette about it. Eco-terrorism is suspected by someone not wanting the road re-opened. It was closed in 1988 because the tunnel was starting to collapse but the Forest Service has been talking about re-opening it to cars. It would be a shame if they did since that’s such a nice area to mountain bike and hike.

As I understand it even before the fire, the tunnel had to be restored because of being put on the National Historic Registry or something like that. When the Forest Service was taking comments on it, I wrote against opening it to cars. I remember what it was like to mountain bike up there when it was open to cars. You can read more about the project on the Forest Service website.

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